Here’s how I became a Helly Hansen Viking

Working together for innovative product development and marketing


Photo courtesy: Helly Hansen
Helly Hansen’s summer collection in shades of blue and red is perfect for Norwegian and Norwegian-American boating enthusiasts.

Rochester, Minn.

Forty years ago, my husband, Walter, and I opened The Nordic Shop. Merchandise was chosen for its Nordic authenticity, design, and usefulness to the consumer and many times its story. We say every item has a story. Over the years, we have had to study the history, the design, and the production of almost every item we sell. Customers depended on our knowledge. That being said, many of our vendors were not engaged with their products’ stories.

Until now! The company Helly Hansen understands the value of resourceful and keen retailers. Helly Hansen selects a few retailers every season to act as Helly Hansen Vikings. We learn about their products, we post images on social media, and we give non-biased feedback on products directly to our coordinator. We get rewards as well! I am proud to say I am a Helly Hansen Viking.

Every month for three months, I get a box from Helly Hansen. All the staff in The Nordic Shop cannot wait until I open the box and show them what I have been sent. My favorite item this past winter was an oversized on-trend white fleecy jacket. I wore this jacket for its warmth and durability. I liked it so much that I bought it for our fall selection. I also was sent a Lifa® layering long sleeve T- shirt, which I wear most every weekend.

Helly Hansen’s outerwear is designed for warmth and durability, for both men and women.

It takes commitment and organization to be a Helly Hansen Viking. The first task is to complete an online training course. There are several sections: history and branding, technology of fibers and fabrics, sustainability of the items and specific clothing options for different conditions. Each section is full of details to learn and subsequently take a quiz. I strived to get 100% on each quiz. It is not easy. Details on the technology of the fabrics and sustainability initiatives are sure to trip me up. After passing the test, I was able to do a little shopping. I chose a shell jacket to test for our shop.

Helly Hansen asked for feedback every month. Our coordinator wants to hear how the items perform, fit, and even how they look. I am able to give feedback on the products that I own, as well as feedback from our customers. This feedback is helpful to Helly Hansen, as they design and produce clothing for the seasons ahead. I know some of my notes on zipper placement and colors of jackets have been taken seriously.

Last February, I was sent some sporks, a camping style spoon and fork in one piece. The spork is dark metal with the Helly Hansen logo on the front. The instruction was to give them out to someone wearing a Helly Hansen jacket. I would say, “Hey, nice jacket” and then hand over the HH Spork. One day, I gave a spork to a person who said to me, “I like your Helly jacket.” It was a fun way to promote the Helly branding.

Everything has a story. I love telling the story of Helly Hansen of Norway. It is an outerwear company that produces some of the best rainwear and layering pieces available. In 1877, Helly Hansen of Moss, Norway, worked in the sea industry since he was 15. He and his wife developed a waterproof jacket by dipping the canvas in linseed oil. His jackets were popular in all seafaring cities all over Europe since the beginning.

The company’s designs now keep the wearer warm as well as dry. New technology gives an additional way to regulate body heat. In 1970, Lifa, a registered trademark of Helly Hansen, was introduced. Lifa is a hydrophobic fiber that will push moisture away from the body, yet it keeps one warm. A three-layer system, now the industry norm, was produced. I can recommend to a customer a base layer of Lifa, a middle layer top and then a jacket. This system works well toggling between different temperatures and conditions on any given day.

helly hansen

Helly Hansen is known for its ability to create practical, comfortable, stylish, and sustainable sports clothing. The Norwegian company is so serious about what it does that each year, they choose select retailers to try out and rate their products as part of the “Helly Hansen Viking” program.

Helly Hansen innovations are world class. In the 1980s, Helly Tech was developed. This fabric is waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Water vapor can go out of the jacket and, most importantly, rain will not go in. Sailors and skiers alike depend on this fabric. I like it because I can be in a downpour running into the grocery store, and as soon I lift off my hood and grab my cart inside the store, the jacket is almost dry.

Born on the Water is one of Helly Hansen’s sustainability initiatives. They have adopted solution dying, which saves much water and is environmentally friendly. Limiting water pollution, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions is important for the future.

I have enjoyed being a Helly Hansen Viking. I use the knowledge I have gained every day while training staff and while helping customers choose a jacket or layer. I can depend on my training and on my personal use of the product to help others make good choices. Helly Hansen provides clothing for the most adventurous sailors and the most fearless back country skiers, as well as workers who depend on proper clothing.

Helly Hansen makes great clothing choices for everyday wear as well. This company does indeed see the value in retailers who strive to know their merchandise. I always remind my customers of the old Norwegian saying: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”


All photos courtesy of Helly Hansen


This article originally appeared in the April 1, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Louise Lysne Hanson

Louise Lysne Hanson is the co-owner of The Nordic Shop in Rochester, Minn., with her husband, Walter. She is also on the board of directors of Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa. Learn more at